Missing Okalee
by Melchor, Laura Ojeda






"When Pheobe's sister, Okalee, drowns in the river during their annual spring celebration, Phoebe is wracked with guilt to the point that she loses her singing voice"-





Laura Ojeda Melchor is from Montana and grew up in a Spanish-speaking home that celebrated her family&;s Cuban culture. She is a self-described bookworm who graduated with a MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Alaska with her husband and son.  
 





In this contemporary middle-grade debut, Melchor combines grief with guilt for an emotionally intense story about Phoebe, whose sister drowns in a river. After celebrating River Day year after year, Okalee wants to cross the river by herself, but when it sweeps her away and Phoebe fails to rescue her, Phoebe is caught between telling her grieving parents the truth about what happened and facing her own immense guilt. This captures the pressures of being an older sister and the unique challenges of losing a sibling. As her perspective matures, Phoebe authentically struggles to imagine other people complexly, leaving plenty of room for significant self-exploration. Meanwhile, many readers will identify with her passion for self-expression through singing. Accessible prose mixed with a candid look at death makes this likely to be popular with reluctant readers. For fans of Jude Banks, Superhero (2021) and other serious middle-grade novels with heart, this is a solid addition to any collection. Grades 2-5. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.






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